Blomkamp’s ‘Demonic’ is an Un-scary Disappointment

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer

Plot: A young woman unleashes a terrifying demon when supernatural forces at the root of a decades-old rift between mother and daughter are ruthlessly revealed.

Review: Demonic was one of those movies coming out this year that I was super-stoked for. Directed by Neill Blomkamp, the mind behind District 9, Chappie and Elysium, I wanted to see what a director who is well known for his genre-bending sci-fi films would do with a straight-up horror movie. Knowing Blomkamp, I knew Demonic wasn’t going to be your simplistic take on possession, and on one hand I was right. But as horror movies go this one commits a huge sin because, simply put, Demonic isn’t scary.

Dang. Some people will do anything for a good night’s sleep

I always like to start with the good stuff and seeing how Neill Blomkamp is a director with an eye for blending natural visuals with more fantastical elements I knew I was in for a good-looking movie, and that’s exactly what I got. Heading into MILD SPOILERS here but Demonic follows a woman named Carly played by actress Carly Pope (Elysium, The Good Doctor). She’s contacted by an organisation that goes into the minds of comatose patients to figure out what’s causing their issues and yes, if you’ve seen The Cell with Jennifer Lopez, it’s kinda like that.

The patient this time happens to be Carly’s mom Angela who was convicted of multiple murders and who has now inexplicably fallen into a coma. So Carly, hoping to find some closure, enters her mother’s mind only to realise there’s something much worse lurking in her subconscious. Something evil, something demonic. Dun! Dun! Dun! (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself). This is the highlight and also possibly the downfall of Demonic. On one hand the painting-like landscape used to represent the subconscious mind looks really cool and I also liked the idea of utilising technology to fight the supernatural. If it’s good enough for the Ghostbusters right? The problem is this type of look doesn’t work well in this genre. Everything is too neat, too clean and therefore not chilling. The atmosphere is less demonic and more sci-fi so it’s difficult to feel immersed in the story that’s unfolding.

Is this real, or is this virtual reality…

The acting by our lead and a handful of others used to flesh out what’s basically one person’s story is fine but no one truly stands out, and because we don’t spend real time with these people we don’t care if they live or die. Even Carly herself feels like a bystander in her own story and it’s not until the end of the movie I felt like I had gotten to known her in any significant way. The design for the demon is cool but again, due to the use of special effects instead of practical ones, he never feels “real” and therefore (say it with me now) NOT SCARY.

There’s a solid story hidden within the story here that I think would’ve made a MUCH better movie. Unfortunately I have to step in to MAJOR SPOILER territory but it will better explain what I’m mean. You see the institute that contacts Carly about her mom is secretly funded by the Roman Catholic church as a means to identify people who are really possessed. By entering the minds of the patient they can identify the demon, figure out where it’s lair is and then a bunch of badass priests hunt it down and destroy it…WHERE IS THAT MOVIE?! I would pay to see that for sure!

I see filming on the Saw reboot is coming along well

It would’ve been a very different take on the possession genre and could’ve been a solid action/horror movie along the lines of Underworld. You know, Priests vs Demons. What we have here is so boring by comparison, and I can easily say Demonic is the weakest horror movie I’ve seen for the year thus far.

A huge swing and a miss on this one folks. I recommend checking out James Wan’s Demonic (2015) instead. It’s no The Exorcist, but it has a solid mystery that unfolds at a fun pace and some decent scares in it to boot. And if you have a Netflix subscription, it’s available to watch right now. As for Demonic (2021) this demon isn’t worth the effort it would take to exorcise him.

Sommer’s Score: 4 out of 10

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2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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